On Monday, student activist group SLO Solidarity sent a list of 41 demands to administrators, ranging from spending limits on Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) campaigns to the creation of a women’s, gender and queers studies major.
Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey responded Tuesday.
“The university agrees with most of these student-generated ideas and indeed already had some similar proposals in development before these recent discussions began,” Humphrey said in an emailed statement.
Though specifics are still being discussed, he said, the university administration will release a report with “proposed short-term and long-term changes to campus programming.” These changes are based on the recent open forum as well as informal meetings with student groups and representatives.
“Diversity and inclusion remain a key concern for Cal Poly, and the university works continually to provide an open and inviting campus climate for all students, employees and visitors,” he said.
The email was also sent directly to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, as well as retiring Dean of Students Jean DeCosta, who will be filling in as the interim executive director for University Diversity and Inclusivity. The current executive director, Annie Holmes, recently left Cal Poly. Holmes was also sent the email.
Armstrong and DeCosta declined to comment individually, according to an email from university spokesperson Matt Lazier. Lazier said there would be updates shortly, once the report to campus is sent out.
The email was sent by political science sophomore and Queer Student Union President Matt Klepfer. CCed were ASI President Owen Schwaegerle, ASI Board of Directors Vice Chair Jana Colombini, as well as students Mehra Gharibian, Isamar Hernandez, Sam Holzer, Mick Bruckner, Kristin Lee and Mario Espinoza, who are all members of cultural clubs on campus.
Colombini responded by saying it was great that SLO Solidarity came up with a list.
“I think they are taking a very proactive approach which is great, and they definitely have a reason to,” Colombini said. “I know as far as ASI goes we will be taking that list into great consideration.”
Holzer, a member of SLO Solidarity, said the list of demands includes both short-term and long-term objectives. Some may be easily implemented right away, while others will take time and could be altered based on future campus climate.
“A lot of the demands are subject to change as the situation on campus changes,” Holzer said. “This demands list is kind of a large outline for how we would like to tackle problems across the college.”
SLO Solidarity organizers met with administrators earlier in the quarter to begin developing plans to meet the club’s goals, Gharibian said.
“We had been in discussions for a while about an action plan, but this is just a follow-up, written-out document that lists demands from the larger SLO Solidarity group,” Gharibian said. “I’m not going to comment on what I think is going to happen until we have the action plan.”
Administration has been aware of disadvantaged students’ concerns for a long time, Klepfer said, but has done little to solve their problems.
“There is no way that the administration was not already aware of the majority of our concerns. There is no way they had not already discussed most of the things we demand,” he said. “Admin has seemed very supportive of our movement. Actions speak louder than words, however, so we will wait until the action plan is released before deciding next steps.”
Bruckner said he hoped administrators would back their claims of interest in reaching minority students, but was skeptical because of the nature of the demands.
“I am taking the demands with a grain of salt just because the actions that they listed require so many resources, funds, energy and kind of just a huge shift in ideological thinking,” Bruckner said. “I’m not sure if the admin is really going to put its money where its mouth is, (but) I would be absolutely thrilled if they did.”
We will update this post as we receive responses from administrators and student leaders.
Naba Ahmed contributed to this report.
Update 2:42 p.m.: Updated to include Armstrong’s and DeCosta’s responses.
Update 3:07 p.m.: Updated to include Colombini’s response.
Update 3:53 p.m.: Updated to include Holzer’s response.
Update 4:14 p.m.: Updated to include Klepfer’s response.
Update 6:06 p.m.: Updated to include Bruckner’s response.
Update 7:48 p.m.: Updated to include Gharibian’s response.